Statement of American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D., in response to six flu-related deaths of children being held or recently released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the recent acknowledgement by U.S. officials that they will not administer vaccines against seasonal influenza to immigrants in detention:
"Influenza, or flu, is a serious respiratory illness that can be life threatening. Health officials recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination every year. Everyone is at risk for getting and spreading the flu. Children, older adults, and those with asthma or other lung diseases are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.
"Anyone can get the flu as it is spread easily from person to person, usually when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be acquired from surfaces touched or otherwise contaminated by an infected person, such as door knobs or table tops. Best practices should always be followed to prevent the spread of flu, including within the detention facilities with respect to screening, treatment, isolation and prevention of influenza. To protect the health of those detained, as well as workers within the facilities, their families and communities, appropriate access to soap and water, clean conditions, treatment for illness and the influenza vaccination should be made available.
"Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. The American Lung Association urges that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination each and every year.
"Preventing the spread of the flu is a serious public health concern. The American Lung Association encourages all to use of best practices and preventive measure to reduce the spread of the flu, improve lung health and save lives."
Learn more about the flu and lung health at Lung.org/flu. For media interested in speaking with an expert about influenza and vaccination, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.